We are not the first parents to attempt to teach our children to be polite, I know that. This is a little about our trials. Recently, I heard our three year-old daughter saying the word “want” more often. As in: “I want water, or I want a snack.” I wasn’t concerned initially, then when it became daily I realized we had to start teaching her to say: “May I have some water?” Lately, that has been the subject of the day at our place. Trying to convert “I want” to “May I”. What a challenge it is! As we speak, she is hollering from the bathroom: “I’m done”…..
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We know how important it is for our children to communicate, especially with regard to basic functions such as eating, pottying, etc. I love when the kids ask for something, and a bit of courtesy just makes their request that much easier to respond to! I tried to set off on this crusade of eliminating “want”, and like a typical amateur I tried not responding when she said: “I want a snack.” I would’t respond and occasionally remind her: “Ask properly, please” so as not to ignore her request. At this point in time, she had been well familiar with “May I”. Still though, she wasn’t having it. Big surprise there? It was to me, I figured that would easily get her on track to a more mannerly vocabulary. Then after that seemed to fail, I got back to “on the spot” corrections. I’ve been using that since. I figured that perhaps if I am constantly replying “May and Please”, she will hear and become a bit more gracious.
The rest of the story is, that those words have not yet caught on. She has not become genteel overnight. Her level of sophistication hasn’t evolved to quite that degree. The truth is, that I don’t expect it to either. Sometimes we get hooked on one of our kids’ “new” behaviors, or words, when there is little to be concerned about. It will likely pass, and in many cases fairly quickly. I only know this because I am one of the parents easily hooked. I have learned that being positive is just about all they respond to, so next time she says forcefully: “Daddy, I WANT a banana”. I cheerfully respond with “What word are you missing?” She says “May”. Daddy then gets a banana…so she doesn’t scream “MAY” then wake up the one year old. She says “Thank You” often, often enough for me at least.
What works for me here, is simplicity. I have learned this the hard way. Keep your communication with your kids simple, clear, and don’t expect them to reel back sentences. I am guilty of the latter, but am getting the hang after three years. When I was young, I heard it from my Dad, and heard it again in the military: KISS. Keep It Simple…..Silly. Encourage them to use polite words, by using them yourself. Then, after you’ve done that, make them memorize the Thesaurus entry for polite and have them write each word one hundred times. Kidding.
Thank You for reading, and kee
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